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Irish focus is on Navy game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis doesn't like to talk about certain topics.

Subjects he stays away from include his new 10-year contract and bowl possibilities.

And, he doesn't want to talk about the Fighting Irish being heavily favored to win their final three games and earn a Bowl Championship Series berth — their first since 2000.

Weis wants his team focused on nothing but this week's opponent, Navy.

"I can only worry about this week. I'm not that smart. I can't foresee what's going to end up happening down the line," he said Tuesday. "I think all our focus has to be on going against a team that has similar goals that we do."

While No. 7 Notre Dame (6-2) is already bowl eligible, Navy (5-3) needs one more victory to become eligible to play in a bowl for a third straight year — a feat the Midshipmen have never accomplished.

If Navy is going to become bowl eligible this week, though, it will have to end a 41-game losing streak to Notre Dame, the longest such streak in NCAA history.

The difference between the teams, though, is that while Navy needs just one win over Notre Dame, Temple (0-10) or Army (2-6) to become bowl eligible, the Irish can't afford to lose to Navy, Syracuse (1-7) or Stanford (4-4) and still receive a BCS berth and its $14 million-plus payout.

The Irish need at least nine wins to be eligible for the BCS.

"They're cognizant of the position they're in," Weis said of his players.

Weis, who was a student at Notre Dame when the Irish earned victories 11 through 14 of the winning streak against Navy, doesn't want to be the coach in charge when that streak ends. He hopes his players feel the same way.

Weis admits he views the service academies differently than other opponents, saying he has a higher level of respect for their players.

"Because you know they've chosen a path that when their college career is over, they're not going to go play in the NFL, they're not going to take some cush job — they're going to go represent our country," he said. "It's a different mentality altogether. That being said, I'm not going to feel sorry for them if we do well. And I'm sure they won't feel sorry for me if they do well, either."

Just as he did a week earlier while preparing for Tennessee, Weis spent much of his news conference Tuesday trying to convince everyone how dangerous Navy is. He pointed out that three of the last four games at Notre Dame Stadium have been decided by four points or less. Two years ago, D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked a 40-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Irish a 27-24 victory.

He also pointed out that Navy's losses to Maryland, Stanford and Rutgers were close.

Weis bristled when a reporter asked him a rhetorical question about when he would put backups in a game — if the Irish were up 50-0 at halftime.

"I think for me to broach that subject it would be almost as if I was planning on that happening against Navy, and I really think that would be disrespectful," he said.

He also didn't want to talk much about Notre Dame's height advantage or weight advantage against Navy. He just wants the Irish to remember that Navy is a dangerous team.

"You have to be concerned with every facet of their game," he said.

That's one subject Weis will gladly talk about.